Posts tagged Europe

Hungary’s Architectural Salvage

Salvage Finds from Hungary

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Mr. Vite and the Chauffeured Audi

Seems like we predictably arrive at our global destinations, exhausted and incoherent. This time was no different. Of course, on route, we had 4 kids under 10, to drop off at Grandmas in New Jersey. Two of ours and their cousins. Those that have experience 4 boys all under 10, in close quarters, eating candy non-stop, understand.

Touchdown– Ferenc List International Airport. Greeting us outside the baggage area was a figure clothed in black, holding a sign above his head with, “Mr. Vite”. Clever guy that I am, I knew he was there for us. With my best friendly face and enunciating carefully in English, “White? Joshua White, I confirmed? He nodded in the affirmative. Wasting no time, I hurried Jessica and myself into the car. Some place between fatigue and excitement I realized we were being chauffeured in a super luxury class Audi. I had no ideas why we qualified for this hoity-toity perk? But, I decided to enjoy the ride. Jessica slept.

Passing fields of sunflowers everywhere, thirty minutes later, the Audi pulled up to a palatial mega structure. To my surprise the Le Meridien Hotel, which we were expecting to stay at, was now the Ritz Carlton. The reputation of Le Meridien Hotels had peaked my personal and professional curiosity, as Le Meridian is known for their understated, historic elegance. Disappointed, yes, but I’d get over it. After all, ‘whatsasowrong’ with the 4.5 stars Ritz Carlton, and smack dab in UNESCO’s World Heritage district.

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Picasso, A Matter of Taste

While our Hungarian contact was ready to jump into work, we decided to relax for 48 hours, get rid of the jet lag and enjoy some tourist activities. Then, full tilt into work mode.

After a deep sleep, turning over and going back for more, we prepared for town. First stop, the Picasso Exhibition. I’m more a fan of his earlier work, pre 1910, before he became mainstream and entered the cubist movement. It’s my thing, but Jessica is slowly getting into it. I’m into Impressionism to neo-modern. Jess favors Renaissance. Fun to share and stimulating to talk about.


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Finding the Find, Where You Least Expect-A diversion in the dialog—

Speaking of art and painting, not long ago, Jess and I were walking near the beach and passed a large impressive home with a trashcan filled to the brim. Being true to my ‘salvage’ profession, I couldn’t help but snoop around. Poking out the top among the jettison, was part of a frame. I pulled it out. It was industrial in color with an urban theme and signed. I‘m skipping some of the story, but the gist is, the painting was a collectable, painted by the father of Cubist movement in Philadelphia. In fact, the artist, still living confirmed it was his. Salvage can be anywhere. Back to Hungary.

Impressions of Budapest – Is the Danube Really Blue?

The beauty of Budapest is indisputable. Clean, historic, grand, and very aesthetic. The Danube which flows through 10 countries, graces the waterfront and yes, it is blue and other colors as well, depending on the geography.Breathtaking bridge engineering, stunning architecture, and park design, all contribute to this memorable city. However magnificent, our attention was riveted on facades and architectural elements: doors, windows, friezes, gates, railings…the suspense mounting on what salvage treasures would reveal themselves to us in this great city.

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Street Encounters

Jessica finds it easy to start a conversation with anyone. Shortly before our Hungary trip, she met an enthusiastic young woman on face book, whose goal and passion is to study opera. She keeps herself afloat by bartending, with aspirations to go to Julliard. The conversation continued in person when we met her at a cozy bar she recommended. After a few glasses of Hungarian wine, she was coaxed into singing. While your computer speakers may not be top of the line Bose, you’ll get the flavor of this talented lady in the video below.

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Trending Concepts and Creative Twists

The camaraderie among us was very enjoyable, the bar’s décor intriguing. Designers took a diversity of salvage and made it work, plus added new twists in contemporary furniture design that I hadn’t seen. They integrated diverse styles which melded harmoniously–– a different look, not yet seen in the US. I made visual and mental notes.

We’re always on the look-out for trending concepts and creative twists—In Hungary we saw these in shops, restaurants, high end offices, coffee houses and spas. Armed with inspiration, we brought back sketches and photos to tantalize and engage our customers.

Discovering the Loot

Good contacts—fair prices and outstanding product availability are golden.

All three points are required to not disappoint our clientele. Add to that, limited time to make the catch. We love the adventure and the challenge!  (May I add, most of the time!).

With noses of a bloodhound, off to the “find” we went. Some of the “loot” was from surrounding countries as well as Hungary. Not unusual. In Europe, where countries’ boarders are contiguous and open, objects from other countries always turn up in the find. Stash from this trip included items from Slovakia, Serbia, France, and Romania.

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“Salvage”…the New Kid on the Block

What makes salvage so attractive? With strong interest in the salvage market, buyers are looking for items that tell stories and add pizazz. While antiques; historic, refined and often times scarce will never go out of fashion, it’s time for “Salvage”…the new kid on the block.

Add weathered carved door, a gate, in their natural state, to a home, restaurant or even office. Results, the wow factor. Utilitarian and sizzle, salvage brings interior decor to life. It creates an ambiance that the forward thinking, architects, designers and independent buyers love. Salvage could be referred to as antiques on steroids.

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On the Hunt for Idiosyncratic Finds

Our trip yielded wooden work benches, a wine press, wine barrels, windows, facades, keystones, architectural pieces, plumbing items, utilitarian kitchen and bathroom items, fixtures, iron gates, fencing, earthenware, an ox cart , a motor cycle from WW2, buggy, (no horse) and more.

Being a kitchen and bath lover, I sometimes see an item I have to have. I know 1% of people visiting our shop would not entertain buying it, but it’s a ‘gotta have’. Surprisingly, that 1% walks in and wants it.

Jessica on the other hand, can spot a find a mile away and know it will walk out of the shop before it arrives. Her blue eyes spot the unique–a cross from 1852, nice find. It was a grave marker cross with names on it and an 1830’s rare stained glass piece, of Peter being arrested, found in the dirt beneath her sandals, (really true).

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An Ending Worthy of Comment

Near the end of our trip, after an intense buying day, we were enjoying a glass of wine or more at a popular bar called ‘Szimpla’. It’s an old industrial warehouse, catering to old and young alike– packed. The open airy space was imaginatively designed with super interesting salvage.

Sitting not far from us was a large solid looking man, arm wrestling with patrons. Before I knew it, Jessica, finishing up her second glass was up and approaching him for a challenge. Of course he let her win. The crowd applauded.

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